Alex Cameron: Full Interview

Duration 07:59


Alex Cameron
Interviewed by Rachel Larman
29th September 2018

INTERVIEWER: Rachel Larman for West Yorkshire Queer Stories. It’s the 29th of September 2018, and I'm here with Alex, who's going to introduce himself.

ALEX: My name is Alex Cameron. My date of birth is 29-07-1963. I identify as a gay man. I came out when I was sixteen, which meant that – which went down like a lead balloon with my mum, who wanted to have me attend a psychiatric thing. She threatened that once.


ALEX: I was – I've been bullied and targeted because I'm gay, through homophobia, in Bingley, and several other places that I've lived at.

INTERVIEWER: Do you live in Bingley now?

ALEX: No. I live in Keighley.


ALEX: And Keighley's very – erm – straight, manly… ‘A man and woman makes babies’ etc, etc… If you’re gay, you keep your head down and you just don't allow anybody to see that you're gay, or any, er… [pause] mannerisms. You know what I mean, yes?

INTERVIEWER: Is there anywhere to go out there then?

ALEX: Erm, there's a gay group in Keighley, and we’ve been going to a cafe called Cakehole, which strangely enough is the campest place I've ever been. The first time we went there, the only thing that was missing was the – the glitter ball and some poppers to have a disco dance with. It's run by a gay man and his partner, and it’s absolutely delicious to go in and eat cake. And I mean the cakes are handmade, homemade. They’re very fattening. Let's put it that way. If I went there, I'd be a very unfit person, and I'm trying to lose some weight right now.

INTERVIEWER: OK. Alex, what are your experiences of mental health issues, and how are they linked with you being LGBT?

ALEX: In 2001, I hooked up with a guy, and he raped me. I carried that for sixteen years. I moved address, and the [stutters] the removal men tipped me over the edge completely. So I went back to my old address, and I went to see my GP, and I had to write it out. I couldn't actually say the ‘R’ word, or rape. I've been on antidepressants since, which has helped me a bit. I was open about being on antidepressants at work – I work at the NHS – least said, soonest mended – and I… told some people about it at work, people that I can trust. But I don't broadcast that about. I've been to Christine's ‘Mindfulness’ and the Rainbow [well-being support] group and I've opened up at that, and it was quite cathartic, that's my word, yes, and I've joined different groups, one being ThursGay, and that's gay men, and they're a nice bunch of guys, but – er – I'll just say they're a nice bunch of guys, yes.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think there's still a stigma attached to mental health?

ALEX: Yes. If you admit that you're flawed, mentally… You can be flawed physically, and people accept it. If you've lost a limb, or you've got a facial defect, or any one body defect, but mentally – it’s usually if you've got mental health issues, you've got a label around your neck, and that's – and people don't like talking about it.

INTERVIEWER: And what's been your experience of mental health services?

ALEX: Erm! About… This is non-LGB related, but about three years ago, I got suspended from work, with a qualified nurse, due to what a patient said. We went through four month of hell, and I’d to go for an interview under police caution. Thankfully, this on-duty solicitor that I had spoke to the police, and I related my side of the story. They said the police didn't actually believe a word of what the woman was saying. Ironically, her son was a police officer, and the mental health support I got was absolute shite. LGBT-wise, the support I've had from MESMAC has been one hundred percent.

INTERVIEWER: OK. So you've attended this kind of session here in Leeds…?

ALEX: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: And been to other workshops and stuff, so how have the workshops helped you?

ALEX: I've grown in confidence, and at least me mum said to me that I've moved on, because I used to talk about work a lot, and I didn't… And I've learned to open up more, and talk, and be more confident in the group.

INTERVIEWER: So do you feel the mental health services in your area meet the needs of LGBT people?

ALEX: No. I mean, MESMAC or outside?

INTERVIEWER: Outside of that.

ALEX: No, they don't meet any of it, no. I'd to – when I went to my GP about getting counselling, I actually said I can get it through MESMAC, because I Googled it and I looked into it, and then I phoned up MESMAC and Christine got me some counselling with Nick, which were brilliant.

INTERVIEWER: So why do you think the services aren't that good?

ALEX: My GP didn't know what to do when I told her that I'd been raped and she didn’t know about any services. Well, she gave me, erm, some numbers to phone up, and that was it. [Pause] Yes.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think would encourage the LGBT community to stand up and speak more about their mental health needs?

ALEX: Maybe a big campaign. People campaigning about it, maybe through radio, television, maybe the soap ops could do something about it. With advice for some of the people that's been through it, or somebody from MESMAC or the LGBT… Equity. There's very little [sighs] there's very few groups. I think that Equity and MESMAC should come together and make more groups, like a combined group, or the entire LGBT, and campaign for that maybe.

INTERVIEWER: So are you coming into Bradford…?

ALEX: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: To access services like that?

ALEX: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: OK. Is there anything else you want to add?

ALEX: Err, not really. I don't think so. I can't think of anything.



Part of: The need to talk about mental health